Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Teen Years (siiiiigh)

Last night before bed I took Gilmore for a walk down the block. We live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, manicured 'common spaces', and gazebos. Nice, right? 'Scandal' in this neighborhood means that someone went two weeks between lawn mowings. Oh! And once we had someone ride a 3 wheeler on the grass by the pool and leave -- wait for it -- "tracks". We also have these street lights that are supposed to be motion activated. Which they are, I guess. Except they go on a good 15 seconds after a car has passed. So our street is pretty dark most of the time.

So, anyway, last night Gilmore and I are out walking down the dark street. We reach the end of the block and turn around. We begin to hear shrieking and movement ahead of us but can't really see much. As we get closer we begin to recognize the sounds. Yup, it's drama. Teenage girl drama. A teenage girl and her 'boyfriend' are having a fight. Punctuated by fierce make out sessions up against the car. The girl is shrieking something about who does she think she is? and Why did you look at her? Then, SHE'S HOTTER THAN I AM! Between each of these statements there is kissing, grabbing and . . .unfortuantely, thrusting. The boyfriend is sort of pushing her up against the car, but it's kind of awkward. The girl seems to be caught on the door handle somehow or maybe her hair is stuck under the guy's arm. I'm sure it looked way sexier when they saw it on 'The Hills' or whatever those crazy kids are watching these days. Anyway, these youths are between me and my house so I have to pass them. And just as we get directly across from them, Gilmore takes a ginomous crap. Which I have to try and pick up with the plastic bag in the dark. It doesn't go well. I have the sense that the teens have stopped their lusty fight to watch me struggle to pick up shit. I drop a few pieces and golly is it fun to find them in the dark! AT LEAST I DIDN'T DROP MY DIGNITY AND SELF RESPECT!! I yell. But not really.

The rest of the way home I think about Zoey and all the relationships she will have in her life. How can I help her choose healthy and safe relationships? This question actually really throws me. I mean, I know all the easy answers: through modeling, through talking to her, through enrolling her in activities that build her self esteem and sense of self. But here's the thing -- my parents did all of that for me. Still, I opted for some baaaad relationships. In high school. In college. In grad school. Part of that is how we learn. But part of that is . . . something else. Whenever my parents cautioned me, I would do the opposite. So, if Zoey brings home a guy or girl and I tell Zoey I don't like him/her she may end up married. Or with a really bad tattoo. So, maybe Demetri and I need to threaten any potential dates. Let's be honest, that's going to have to be all me as Demetri is the kindest person on the planet. Demetri: Oh? You want to take out my daughter? Here's 50 bucks for the virtual reality show. And do you want to borrow our hover craft? Me: Oh? You want to take out my daughter? Yes, well, let's have a little chat over here by this lovely laser gun and set of really really sharp knives . . . Somehow I don't really think that's the answer either.

Help me out. What do you think?


  1. I can't be one to preach too much, as I have a bad tattoo and I have had more than my fair share of relationships that have felt more damaging than healthy... But, maybe that means I just really understand the predicament. I think a big factor is media, as you mentioned in your blog. I pretty much gave up tv about 8 years ago, but I still feel that I am trying to shed some unrealistic expectations of my relationships that I acquired from watching, say, Saved By the Bell... I turned to tv as a way of anaesthetizing cuz things felt bad emotionally/spiritually. I think that limited reliance on tv as pain-killer (as well as accurate news-reporting i might add), coupled with a really strong emphasis on critical thinking is a great recipe for a healthy teenager. In my niece and nephew I see some good things going on- where their parents really listen and talk to them intelligently, from the very beginning. Those kids are so good at talking about what they need and I admire them for that. I know you're on the right track!

  2. Don't borrow trouble, as my mom always says. Deal with the poop issues first.

  3. Oddly, "Deal with the poop issues first" is what MY mom always says.

  4. Yes, I do see the point of dealing with 'the now'. But I also think that this is something so very important and something that starts now that it deserves some attention. . . .

  5. Sometimes bad relationships are okay. They help you to recognized and VALUE the good ones. Plus, the modeling your parents did worked in the end, didn't it? You wound up with Demetri and Zoey!

  6. Zoey is 15 months old. There are another 177 months until she is 16. To stress about it now is to sweat through 5310 days over something that could change in a breath.

    I guess what I am saying is for example, Justin had some hair-brained ideas that gave me pause for thought, but in the end, he made smart decisions and I am proud of him.

    You are a very good mother, and your guidence and humor will do wonders for Zoey's thought go clean up the poop :)

  7. Poor Gilmore can't even poop in peace anymore! I think we should be worrying less about Zozo's future relationships and worry more about Gilmore and his peaceful excretions.

    But if we MUST worry about Zozo and the future, I think setting a good example with your communications with Demetri and keeping close tabs on Zozo's relationships (not by spying, but by making her feel comfortable telling you about them) are the best ways to prevent major problems. It's one of those things you can't plan for, but something you roll with I guess. Stressing about it now is wasted energy!

  8. This is not an issue I have to deal with right now, thankfully, but since you asked for input (and I never have a shortage of that, esp. when I have no real-world experience!) - I'd say, for starters - see what other good parents of teens do.

    I have a good friend that I definitely consider a role model for that, if I ever have to enter those dangerous waters, myself. What I admire about her and her relationships with her daughters is that is it a very open and communicating (mostly) relationship. They *talk*. And they talk about the uncomfortable stuff as well as the "silly" stuff. My sense is that her kids are generally comfortable with this, and except for some "normal" outbursts and disagreements, I think they understand in the end it truly is for their good - and they often see even short term benefits from it.

    The other part that impresses me about her is that she is pretty open with her kids about "stuff" that is going on in her life. She doesn't burden her kids with her problems - no way - but if she herself is going through a tough time about something, she's pretty honest with her kids about that fact. And I've seen that come back to help both her and her kids out, as they go through somewhat similar experiences, some years later. The daughter can come to the mother and say, "Hey mom, when you were going through (whatever) a few years ago, what did you do? etc." It's cool to watch, and see how she does that. She's a great mom, and her kids are growing up strong, bright, intelligent, and have a great future ahead of them.

    But hey. If you don't even have a hovercraft in the garage yet, you probably have plenty of time to worry about this later. Besides, they say that the early years are the most formative, right? She's in good hands! You have nothing to worry about!